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Thursday, March 29, 2012

North America's Biggest Things

Pinto MacBean
Last week in Alberta I learned that Canadian towns have a fascination with having the World's biggest things (Canadian friends, please correct me if that's an Alberta-only fascination). In Bow Island, Alberta they have the World's biggest Pinto bean. In Medicine Hat, Alberta they have the World's biggest tee-pee. In my last workshop of the week there someone told me about Big Things of a Big Country. The site is a catalog of the towns in Canada that can lay claim to some of the World's biggest things. A U.S.-based counterpart to Big Things of a Big Country is What's Large Where. Did you know that Maine has the World's largest boot and the World's largest globe?

Applications for Education
I've been thinking about the World's largest things for a week now. What I've come up with is creating a Google Maps or Google Earth scavenger hunt for the World's biggest objects. You could create one and have students complete the hunt by gathering the locations and information about the locations. Or you could have students create a series of scavenger hunts that they swap with each other.

Video - Why Frustration Aids Creativity

Want to get stronger? Do 100 push-ups everyday. Want to learn Italian? Throw yourself into an immersive experience and try not to default to your native tongue. Want to be creative? Experience frustration in an attempt to solve a problem. That is the message of IMAGINE: How Creativity Works. Take a few minutes to watch it for yourself.


IMAGINE: How Creativity Works from Flash Rosenberg on Vimeo.

Applications for Education
Students sometimes wonder why we let them struggle with a difficult concept. When you have a few minutes before class that you think might struggle with something new, show them part or all of this to remind them that it's okay to feel frustration and that feeling won't last forever.

H/T to Brain Pickings

Youngzine Presents Wide World Science Lizards

Last fall I wrote a short review of an online news magazine for kids called Youngzine. Youngzine has a new feature running right now that is intended to get kids interested in a field study of lizards in Florida. The Wide World Science Lizard Project is a two week feature that classrooms can follow as researchers post new information each day about lizards on Florida islands. From March 28 to April 10 students can view pictures, videos, and ask questions about the things they see in the blog posts.

Applications for Education
The Youngzine World Wide Science Lizard Project could be a nice little part of an elementary school science lesson about biodiversity and habitat.

Still Crazy After All These Years - Crazy About RSS

I still remember the first time I saw Google Reader in action. I was instantly in love it! Without a doubt RSS feeds and Google Reader are the most important tool that I use on a daily basis. Sure I could subscribe via email to all 300+ of my favorite websites, but who wants more email? And I certainly don't want to open 300+ sites individually. Subscribing to RSS feeds in Google Reader lets me keep up with my favorite sites. So while tech blogs like to make claims that Twitter, Google+, and other platforms will make RSS feeds redundant, I still love my RSS feeds.

What is RSS?

What is Google Reader?

More and more I'm consuming RSS feeds through Feedly instead of Google Reader, learn more about Feedly in the video below.

Feed Your Mind On The Go from Feedly on Vimeo.

Shaq The Lifelong Learner

Last night before bed here in Lugano, Switzerland I wanted to a watch a bit of television but there was one small problem, every station was in Italian or German. So I went to the web and watched a bit of the Daily Show online. One of the clips I watched was this interview with Shaquille O'Neal. In the clip Shaq reveals that he will receive his Phd. this spring. As I watched I couldn't help but be slightly impressed that a man who has earned enough money to buy just about anything has continued to go to further his education. Some people might think it's a publicity stunt, but O'Neal and Stewart put that notion to rest in the interview.

Wikipedia Maze - A Wikipedia Game

If you have ever found yourself or your students jumping from one link the next in Wikipedia and gotten so lost that you forgot where you started, Wikipedia Maze is for you. Wikipedia Maze is a community-powered site featuring puzzles based on Wikipedia articles. The challenge is to figure out how someone got from one topic to another in as few links as possible. For example, can you figure out how I got from Andrew Carnegie to Richardson's Ground Squirrel in six clicks?

The Tekzilla video below has a short overview of Wikipedia Maze.



Applications for Education
If you're looking to give some structure to your students' exploration of Wikipedia, Wikipedia Maze could be a nice way to do that. You can create your own mazes or have students create them and share them with each other. Who knows what they might discover along the way?

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